Last week's Republican victories not only flipped the U.S. Senate, but they also gave Florida Republicans a veto-proof majority in the legislature. Republicans also retained the Governor's mansion, with incumbent Governor Rick Scott beating Democrat Charlie Crist (a former Republican governor who left after one term to pursue a Senate seat) in a very close race. The incumbent Republican Cabinet officers, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, all coasted to easy victories.
Republicans already controlled both chambers, but in previous elections, Democrats had won just enough seats to become a force in how the Legislature dealt with veto threats from the Governor. Even when a legislature and a governor are from the same party, institutional prerogatives sometimes transcend party.
As happens in all transitions, there will be the typical "musical chairs" as some staff move in and out of the executive branch and the legislature. But with no change in the top executive leadership, the numbers of staff changes will likely be less than when offices change hands.
Attention will now turn to a special election in the Jacksonville area to fill the seat of Senator John Thrasher, who was confirmed last week as President of Florida State University. The Senate also will be focused on the very tight race between Senators Joe Negron (Stuart) and Jack Latvala (Clearwater) for President of the Senate from 2016 to 2018.
The Governor and Cabinet officers will take their oaths on January 6, 2015. The Legislature will hold its organizational session on November 18th, when it will formally elect its officers. The 60 day regular session begins March 3, 2015. Committees will hold hearings before then during weekly sessions, beginning January 5 and throughout the weeks of January 20, February 2, 9 and 16.